Photos: Behind the Scenes: La Grande Sortie

Photographer Alex Prager takes us through the steps.

Alex Prager

“I had never done anything in dance before. I had no idea what I was getting into. It ended up being a much bigger production than I imagined. So I’m actually glad I didn’t know.”


“I did a little ballet, and a little tap. I still remember some of my tap moves. But The Red Shoes is one my favorite movies—it’s had a huge impact on everything that I do.”


“I couldn’t audition the dancers beforehand, but because Emilie is from one of the biggest ballet groups in the world, I assumed she could also act. Ballet is a performance, and she’s one of the most precise professionals I have ever met.”


“Karl Paquette is the male dancer with Emilie. I worked very closely with the choreographer Sebastien Marcovici, who is Benjamin Millipied’s right hand man.”


“I really wanted the backdrop to be green, but my production designer in Paris kept sending sketches back with the backdrop blue. Finally, one day I was like, ‘This must be a fucking language barrier!’ So finally I asked him. And it turns out that in France it’s bad luck to have the stage be green, because in the past green had a toxin in it that was said to have killed actors. And of course I thought, Now it has to be green!”


“I had a still photographer documenting everything behind the scenes, but I was also making pictures with my film camera for my exhibition next year at Lehmann Maupin.”


“Emilie’s hair and makeup had to get more unraveled as she unraveled. So I kept spraying her with a water bottle and messing up her eyebrows. And we pushed the camera closer and closer in on her—something you never see in ballet on TV—until she becomes a crazy person.”